Settle down with a cuppa and meet blogger Jen Gale, who is spending a year not buying anything new and writing about it in her hugely popular blog. She’s also a regular fixture at the Bath Artisan Market with her “Upcycle Exchange“, a craft supplies stall which sells donated materials on a Pay What You Wish basis to prevent unwanted fabric, buttons, card etc finding its way into landfill and give crafters an affordable way to keep their passion going. Jen also runs workshops under the name Make it Better and has recently appeared in The Sun newspaper too! Here she explains more about her life’s work and mission!
“My name is Jen, and I live not far from Bath with my lovely hubby, two gorgeous small boys, who are 4 and 2, and two slightly annoying cats.
Last September I embarked on a challenge to Buy Nothing New for a year and dragged the rest of the family along with me. I called it My Make Do and Mend Year, and I have been blogging about it pretty much every day since then (you can catch up at www.mymakedoandmendyear.wordpress.com). The blog has really taken off, and now has over 300 followers, and more than 2000 followers on Twitter, and as well as being a regular on BBC Radio Wiltshire, we have also been in the local press, on the local ITV news, and just last month we had a big feature in The Sun!
This is all very exciting, and hopefully it is helping to spread the word about Making, and Making Do and Mending, but you may well be asking what I am doing here on the Bath Artisan Market blog!
My Make Do and Mend Year is proving to be a bit of a ‘journey’ and has helped to empower me to do things that I think I would otherwise have just sat and daydreamed about. It has given me the push to get on a actually DO things instead of just thinking about them and I have started a fledgling social enterprise which I have called Make It Better… Along with another local crafter, Verity Scott, we are running monthly free making/mending/sewing drop in sessions in a pub in Warminster; holding regular Saturday morning Upcycle! sessions in the local library; putting on a Charity Sewing Day, making pillowcase dresses for the Dress A Girl Around the World project; running Swishes, and also starting up a Repair Café-phew!! And that’s just for starters!
Another ‘arm’ of Make It Better…is the Upcycle Exchange. Some of you may have seen me at the April Make Do and Mend themed market.
This was the inaugural outing for the Upcycle Exchange, and I got a fantastic response from all the lovely traders and visitors at the market. So much so, that I will now be there every month! Now, I can hear you all asking, “What on earth is an Upcycle Exchange?”, so I will explain…
Essentially, people donate any unwanted/un-loved/surplus crafting supplies, and I then make them available to the local crafting community at Pay As You Wish prices. The aim is to try and save things from landfill, and to allow local artists and makers to buy affordable supplies. Pay As You Wish pricing is exactly what it says on the tin-you pay what you think is a fair price for the materials. You will obviously not be paying even close to what the craft stores charge, but by honouring the value of the supplies you are buying, you will help the concept and the business to grow and to thrive.
There is a Wish-List available of things that I think other makers and crafters may be on the look-out for, and this will obviously change and adapt as people let me know what it is they want. If you bring along a bag full of items from the Wish-List to donate, then I am issuing vouchers for people to use at the stall as well.
I will be at the Bath Artisan Market every month, with an eclectic mix of crafting supplies for your delight and delectation-from the more traditional, like fabric, wool and knitting needles, to the more unusual, like vinyl records, old keys and silver cutlery-all of which can be turned into amazing art works with a little bit of inspiration! To help you work out what to do the more unusual bits on sale, I am putting together a series called “Inspiration Station” to help inspire you as to exactly what you can make out of old CDs, scrabble tiles or mens ties…!
The Make It Better… Upcycle Exchange, is modelled on the original Upcycle Exchange, set up by an inspirational lady called Autumn Wiggins in St.Louis, USA, and is unique in the UK at the moment. Obviously I think it is a really great concept, and I hope that you do too! Next time you come to the market, please do come and say hello, have a browse and a rummage, and if you have any supplies that you have been hoarding in your stash, that you know you are never really going to get around to using, then please do consider donating them, so they can go on to help someone else Make It Better..!
To keep up to date with all the events, workshops and the Upcycle Exchange, then head to www.makeitbettermenditbetter.wordpress.com, or if you want to get in touch, then e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading.”
Find Jen at the Bath Artisan Market every month, near The Greatest Little Coffee Box!